Tags / Flooding
Footage of floods in Northern Pakistan and Chitral District and other areas.
Mohammad Razzaque Miah sleeps inside his temporary tent in Mymensing. He migrated from Kurigram to Mymensing after losing his house in a flood.
Bangladesh is a country of rivers and waterways on which large swaths of its population live. River bank erosion and flooding are common and continuous process due to global warming and rising sea levels. This continuous natural hazard is destroying homes and livelihoods and turning millions of Bangladeshis into homeless climate refugees.
The factors controlling river and stream formation are complex and interrelated. These factors include the amount and rate of water supply from rain and upstream activity, sediment deposited into the stream systems, catchment geology, and the type and extent of vegetation in the catchment. As these factors change over time, river systems respond by altering their shape and course. Unpredictable weather patterns also make flooding a common problem as the course of the rivers shift.
As a result of riverbank erosion and flooding, millions of people are losing their homes and fertile land every year. Most people who lose their homes or land become climate refugees, often pouring into the country’s overpopulated cities penniless and looking for new opportunities. However, due to overpopulation, migrating climate refugees often arrive in the cities only to find themselves scrounging for food, work and accommodation. Thus, Bangladesh’s most vulnerable citizens are losing their battle against nature and are only made poorer and more desperate.
Landslides have buried at least 15 people in Indian Kashmir as hundreds fled their homes after heavy rain triggered flooding around the mountainous region. Police and witnesses said landslides had buried at least four houses in Chadoora, the worst hit area of the Himalayan region where hundreds were killed in devastating floods last September.
Malawi, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has seen devastating floods in the southern part of the country. In some areas, a month’s worth of rain came down in 24 hours at the beginning of the rainy season, leaving villages, roads, bridges and fields destroyed. The death toll is estimated to be anywhere between dozens and nearly two-hundred, while 14,000 households are known to be displaced (an estimated 70.000 people). However, some areas have yet to be reached, so these figures are expected to rise.
The government of Malawi has declared fifteen southern districts disaster zones and has appealed for international aid. To British government has already dedicated GBP 3.8 million to help rescue and rebuilding efforts, and many other governments are soon to follow.
The aid operation carried out by the Government of Malawi, the military and a range of international organisations, MSF and UNICEF having a prominent presence among them, is in full speed. The Malawian army is leading the evacuation of affected and vulnerable communities, using boats and helicopters, and improvised camps are being set up with tents and medical facilities. As always after flooding, prevention of waterborne diseases such as cholera is priority.
Bad weather continued to hinder the aid operations until Friday 16 January when the rain ceased. However, rising temperatures made for uncomfortable circumstances in the camps and outside.
The Malawian Police Force is setting up Victim Support Units and Child Protection units in the camps, while the international agencies such as UNICEF and UNFPA provide blankets, tents and food, and also first aid for rape cases and safe delivery kits. MSF is also participating, setting up and operating a mobile health clinic.
A homeless climate refugee sleeps in a park at Dhaka. The Bangladeshi capital is one of the most densely populated cities on earth. One of the major contributing factors to this swell in population is the mass migration of people from the impoverished countryside into the city. Many of those leaving the countryside fled after losing homes, crops, and livelihoods to natural catastrophes.
Mohammad Rashid Miah cut down all of the trees around his house on Alexander Island, in Laxmipur. Having already lost his house to the river, Mr. Miah is salvaging his trees in order to sell them and save enough money to move to Dhaka.
Rubel stands in front of his uprooted coconut trees on Alexander Island, in Laxmipur. After loosing his cow to river bank erosion, these coconut trees were his last source of livelihood. However, these trees have now also fallen victim to the river.
Rabeya Khatun mourns her lost husband and son on Alexander Island, in Laxmipur. Her husband and son lost their lives when their house was swallowed by the river as they slept. Rabeya was at her mother's house when the incident occurred and thus survived.
Mohammad Ikram stands in front of the Meghna river, near Alexander Island, in Laxmipur. He has seen his neighbors migrating and even dying because of water related disasters. Despite strong signals that it is best to leave the area, he does not know what to do because his land is all he has.
Sadarghat Launch Terminal, situated on the bank of the river Buriganga in Dhaka, is one of the busiest places in Bangladesh. Most people migrating from the countryside pass through this port to migrate to Dhaka. Many of those migrating are climate refugees.
Mohammad Shahjahan transports tin sheets and other materials from his house. Some families actually migrate before disaster strikes so they do not lose all of their belongings in an impending disaster. Mohammad deconstructed his entire house and moved it elsewhere before it was destroyed by the water.
Mohammad Mamun stands over his submerged house in the Padma River in Dohar, Dhaka. Mr. Mamun's house was swallowed by the Padma after river bank erosion resulted in a land implosion.
Mohammad Romjal Ali takes a selfie with his destroyed house. Mr. Ali's house was destroyed by the eroding river bank. Dohar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Rabeya Begum stands over the roof of her house which she salvaged after it was destroyed by river bank erosion. She is going to use the salvaged materials to build her new home. Dohar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Khadija Akhter was only able to save this cabinet and some bricks from her house after river bank erosion resulted in her house being destroyed and submerged. Dohar, Dhaka.
Mohammad Hashmot Ali's house sits tilted and half submerged in the Padma river after the bank on which his house was built gave way. Dohar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report, released in October 2013, predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius this century. Seas will creep up by 26 to 82 centimeters by 2100. If no countermeasures are taken, "hundreds of millions" of coastal dwellers will be displaced by 2100. Small-island states and East, Southeast and South Asia will lose the most land. Among them, Jakarta is one of the cities in the world most vulnerable to flood losses because of growing population, climate change and subsidence.
The first thing that strikes you in Jakarta is the deadly traffic: motorbikes, cars, and rusted minibuses careen day and night through the streets of this messy megacity. Journeying across Jakarta means spending hours even for short distances in an unbreathable air. The second thing that strikes is the lack of a sewage system and wastewater treatment: along roadside, exposed or covered, ditches run in order to collect wastewater and sewage from homes, offices, commercial and industrial activities, which then pour into the waterways across the city. When wastewater reaches the coast it is black and polluted. A dreadful odor envelops Muara Angke’s slum, a community of poor fishermen families settled on the coastline, building their shacks on the waste from the processing of mussels.
Greater Jakarta is a delta city of more than 10 million people, crossed by 13 rivers and hundreds of canals. It is estimated that about 2 million people commute to downtown Jakarta from the suburbs every day. The metropolitan area of Jakarta is the second largest megacity in the world (after Tokyo-Yokohama area), home of an estimated population of more than 26 million, comprising the satellite cities of Tangerang, Depok, Bekasi and Bogor.
This year’s release of demographics of largest urban areas in the world (Demographia World Urban Area) shows that the population growth of Jakarta was 34,6% for the decade 2000-2010, ranking it in the top 10 world’s fastest-growing megacities.
Now, together with pollution and population growth, also climate change is a threat to Jakarta inhabitants. Coastline areas like Muara Angke, Pluit, Tanjung Priok are mainly covered by slums and regularly suffer of seasonal floods, monthly high tides, and rising of sea level. The shacks lack of any sort of protection against high water from the sea or floods from the maze of waterways that cut through the city. Jakarta was benefiting from a natural protection in the mangrove forests bordering the town, but these have gone lost. Mangroves have been reduced to a few narrow strips along the seaward, and are under continuous attack from pollutants and garbage. It is all about the missing mangrove forests, then.
Jakarta, West Java, and Banten mangrove forests occupied 44,453 hectares in 1996-1998, but were drastically reduced to 11,370 hectares in 2009. Today only 300 hectares of forest remains in Jakarta. Moreover, the north reservoirs, which should receive the water flooding from rivers and canals, are surrounded by slums as well. In fact, slums are replacing the role of mangroves as they are acting as a sort of urban, inhabited, and suffering buffer to the floods.
In Jakarta the sea is rising rapidly, but no displacement is occurring – could humans be a cheap way to mitigate sea level rise? Locals are getting used to have their shelters inundated. That is one of the prices that illegal immigrants have to pay when choosing to migrate from their village to Jakarta. This is the case, fore example of Maria, 30, and her husband, who migrated from a village in central Java four years ago. He is a minibus driver, and their baby was born just two weeks after the huge flood of January 2013. Their house is on the decaying banks of the Ciliwung river in the Rawajati subdistrict, and when the water rose, it was fully submersed by water and mud up to 4 meters.
“My pregnancy was at the end when I had to leave my house because it completely flooded. I may have returned only a few days after my baby was born. No one helped to clean or cared to know whether we were dead or if we needed any help”.
Maria’s story is not a one-off case. According to “Jakarta in Figure”, published in 2009, population living in poverty should count around 340,000. This is a conservative figure, though, as more than 20% of total settlements in Jakarta are in slum areas and there is a substantial percentage of illegally settled immigrants. The number of poor people might be far beyond that official number. These poor people usually work in informal sectors such as drivers, ojek (motorbike taxi), scavengers, navvies and so on.
Slum areas occupy chiefly river banks, like those on the Ciliwung. The shanties weaken the riverbanks and people live in very poor condition, with inadequate infrastructures, in unhealthy environment, and low accessibility to basic needs. They use the river water not only as sewage but as shower or for washing clothes. Ciliwung river is one of the city’s waterways most affected by floods: due to this illegal residential development, it has no overflow basins, and so flood enters directly inside the poor houses on its banks.
A typical modern and fast growing Asian city, Jakarta displays the contrasting bright glass-covered exclusive and luxury apartments, separated by no more than a crumbling wall from informal settlements. Elites and basic housing are there, side by side. Indonesia is the Southeast Asia’s largest economy with a growth of 6.5% (2011) and Jakarta is the biggest economic hub of the country, counting alone for the 7% of Indonesian GDP. Most of housing supply is targeted to rich people making the market of gated community and elite apartments increasing.
The exclusivity of this community is among the causes for the widening of the social segregation: giant towers and new luxury malls stand in the city amidst terrible poverty. Over the years, the policy makers of Jakarta have responded to increasing house demand by converting green areas and wetlands into residential, commercial, and industrial areas. In 1965, green areas still covered more than 35% of the total city area, but currently there is only 9.3% of green areas left. This happens despite in the regulated law provinces of Indonesia are required to have 30% green areas.
The more the town grows towards the sky, the more it sinks because of land subsidence. This chaotic and high density urban development is affecting also the uncontrolled use of ground water for household and industrial purposes, which is one major responsible of the subsidence of Jakarta, now displaying an impressive 10 cm per year rate of subsidence. As seawater underground intrusion grows in and around the capital, it is foreseen that in 10 to 15 years Jakarta will face groundwater scarcity.
Would all this not be enough to generate uncertainties around the fate of the town, today there is the climate threat. Currently, the Jakarta Capital City Government doesn’t have a policy specifically tailored to climate change, however they do have policies on disaster mitigation. Thus, after the disastrous flood of January 2013, which was caused losses of more than 4.3 trillion Indonesian Rupees, displacement of more than 100,000 people, and the death of 26, the Government has begun to clean illegal settlements on riverbanks and around the north reservoirs, moving people to new popular housing.
This is far from bringing a solution to the challenges that the megacity is facing. As stated in an article on Nature Magazine: “failing to adapt is not a viable option in coastal cities. The estimated adaptation costs are far below the estimate of aggregate damage losses per year, in the absence of adaptation”. The warn is there, how Indonesians will cope with the many challenges their capital is facing, is still an open question.
Not so different is the situation of other settlements on Java northern coast. Semarang, in central Java, is one of the biggest ports on the main Indonesia’s island. Here, the high tide’s ingression was already well known by the Dutch, who have been built a system of polders to protect the city. Yet, today that system is inadequate and the ROB, as it is called in the local language, has reached critical dimensions: started in 1995, the measurements reported flood only in the port area up to 500 meters from the coastline. Today, the high tide enters up to 5 km from the coastline, also flooding the old Dutch center. With a proven subsidence of 6 to 7 cm per year to "strengthen" the effect of rising sea level, entire neighborhoods are doomed to sink completely in the next 15 to 20 years.
Here, “adaptation” to climate change is taking an unpredicted path: the tidal flood is so fast (in three hours the water rises from the bottom up to 30 to 40 cm, in some areas daily in other areas two or three times per week) that in the last 30 years those who could lifted up the house. The poorest were just able to fill the flooded floor with rocks and sand – in short, burying their own house.
A girl carrying her little sister while they are waiting for relief goods in their evacuation area in Binan, Laguna.
Evacuees heating the packed meal they received from the Office of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Peccadillo and bread are distributed to hungry evacuees at Binan Elementary School in Laguna.
Peccadillo and bread are distributed to hungry evacuees at Binan Elementary School in Laguna.
Peccadillo and bread are distributed to hungry evacuees at Binan Elementary School in Laguna.
Evacuees temporarily nestling at Binan Elementary School waits for relief goods.
Children evacuees at Binan Elementary School waits for relief to feed their hungry stomachs after Typhoon Trani had devastated them.
In 2009, the company DANA GAS (UAE) started shale gas explorations near Fares, a small agricultural village on the West Bank of the Nile, 75 km North of Aswan.
The company employed a controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", which uses a mixture of pressurized water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in the shale rock.
The village was soon flooded with groundwater and in January 2013 orchards, crops and houses were destroyed.
Residents do not have results from the water tests that the government was supposed to carry out. In addition to ecological concerns, property owners whose land was affected have received very little compensation from the gas extraction company (Dana Gas) or from the Egyptian government. The clean up efforts promised by the government have come to a halt and it is not known if and when they will resume.
The case of Fares, however, differs from other documented cases of damages caused by fracking.
The flooding is believed to be the result of seismic testings, a straightforward operation conducted prior to the extraction to determine the size of the shale.
Therefore, this case shows:
how monitoring of the fracking operations --known to be possibly harmful for water reserves -- was poor or non-existent in an area close to the Nile
media usually focuses on fracking's direct effects. In Fares, however, damage was caused by a subsidiary effect of fracking
land grabbing - although not through acquisition, but through destruction - occurred without compensation for the villagers and the denial of any responsibility on part of the company
the Egyptian government - under Mubarak, the SCAF, and the Muslim Brotherhood - failed to stand up against the company and protect its citizens
environmental concerns not only for the village's proximity to the Nile, but also for the destruction of many mature and rare trees
00:00 - 00:17
Images of Upper Egypt, Map of Fares
VO: "75 km north of Aswan lies Fares, a village of 30,000 inhabitants, on the west bank of the Nile. Renowned as one of the principle producers of mangoes and dates in Egypt, the majority of Fares' residents are employed in the agricultural sector, making fields and crops the crux of the village's economy."
00:18 - 00:35 Images of the flooded fields, Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid
VO: "However, in January 2013, flooding of groundwater devastated fields and orchards, and destroyed houses and local buildings in the village. The flooding has been attributed to the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations by the company Dana Gas, whose extraction site, is only 10 km north of Fares.
00:36 - 00:47 Animated info-graphic on fracking
VO: "Fracking is a controversial technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock. This is done by creating fissures in the shale with a perforating gun, and then injecting a pressurized mixture of water and chemicals to release the trapped gas and bring it to the surface."
00:48 - 01:19 Interview with the Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid (community leader), images of the fields
"It has started since 2009-- first they found that the soil became wet. Gradually, the water began to come on the surface, higher and higher, until it reached the level of one metre. This water has submerged about 2,000 feddans of land (840 hectares)."
01:20 - 01:26 Images of fields, uprooted palm tree
VO: Although the company is not fracking in Fares directly, the flooding is believed to be a result of Dana Gas's seismic testing using 'shot-holes'.
01:26 - 01:52 Animated info-graphic on seismic testing
VO: "Seismic testing uses 30 foot pipes that are inserted into the ground, and an explosion is detonated. The vibrations from the explosion bounce off the subsurface rock and travel back to the surface, where a grid of geophone sensors pick up the wavelengths, thus determining the expanse of the shale below. Ordinarily in the industry, the pipes are plugged in order to prevent flooding. But, these pipes were left open in the fields-- creating a pathway for flowing groundwater to stream upwards."
01:53 - 02:09 Images of fields, springs
VO: "The flooding reached a climax in January, but damage to the fields remains. Stagnant puddles of water exceeding 3 inches, cover entire fields. Groundwater continues to spring spontaneously, creating essentially a swamp out of homes and a formerly prosperous crop."
02:10 - 02:24 Interview with Mohamed Abdouh (farmer and teacher)
"Approximately about 150 families have to move, because of this problem. A lot of these families can't afford to build new houses."
02:25 - 02:36 Interview with Mohamed Abdouh, images of the local graveyard
"The most bitter thing for the villagers is that the graveyard of the village has completely submerged. "
02:37 - 03:06 Interview with Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid in front of a house destroyed
"Approximately 2,000 feddans were flooded by the groundwater. it is more than 2,000 feddans. In these areas there were trees: palms, lemon, mango, berries and that now there is water (that are now flooded). It has more than a hundreds of thousands of doom, palms, mangoes, lemons, and all citrus and this is all the income for the village. These fields are the only income for the village "
03:07 - 03:20 Images of residents
VO: Residents state that there was virtually no consultation with the village prior to shale extraction. In 2009, they were told there may be gas reserves in their village, but the seismic testing carried out directly on their land, was not explained to them.
03:21 - 03:44
"They just came and drilled. When the farmers asked them they told (them) they were looking for oil. So the farmers were happy. If they found gas or oil on your land, you will have a good compensation. Good money as a compensation."
03:45 - 03:52 Images of a street seller, men sitting on the ground, kid riding a donkey
VO: "The governor of Aswan stated that the company would create 450 jobs for local residents, yet no one has been employed to date."
03:53 - 04:06 Images of children, the local school, man picking up bricks
VO: "Moreover, compensation remains a large concern for the residents' livelihood. Beyond the municipal government offering to help rebuild the hospital and school, very little money has actually met the hands of the land and home owners whose properties were damaged."
04:07 - 04:34 Interview with Mohamed Abdouh
"When the villagers went to make a sit-in in the company-- in the site there- -the responsibles came and told us they have given the clerks in the municipal council a big number-- a lot of money. When we returned to the municipal council, they denied that. So we are... we don't know how. We are now bewildered between them…"
04:35 - 04:49 Images of the cleanup operation site.
VO: "The government began cleanup efforts six months ago by draining the fields with pipes that would empty to a drainage canal and then run back into the Nile. The pipes though, were too small, and so the clean up project had come to a halt. When they will resume is unknown."
04:50 - 04:59 Images of Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid, puddle of stagnant water, the Nile river from Fares' shore.
VO: "Residents still have not heard back from the municipal council abt the water test results, but maintain that the water is harmful, which is also a cause for concern due to its proximity to the Nile."
05:00 - 05:16 Images of Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hamid, images of resident walking next to trees, man on the train.
In addition to the ecological concerns, it's significant that Fares' principal fields and orchards were destroyed, including many mature trees that had reached peak production. Thus not only costing the agricultural-centered village lost profits this year, but also for the years to come.
India’s abandoned Mangalur mine has been closed for 20 years, however, its toxic waste continues to haunt the lives of those inhabiting surrounding villages.
In Kanataka’s Raichur District, mine tailings continue to be dumped on farmland, rendering it not only unfertile, but also poisonous to residents. Tests on soil samples have shown this practice has effectively made the soil unsafe for use for at least 25 years.
Economic and social sectors are not the only areas suffering as a result of the toxic dumping. Locals ominously refer to the area as the 'cyanide' mountain, owing to the large amounts of sodium cyanide present in the tailings.
Chandibai, a 70-year old woman from Kiradali Tanda village, has developed deep lesions on her hands because of arsenic in the local drinking water.
Thirty-eight year old Kishan Chauhan has also been highly affected by the poisonous contents of the water. He lost his leg to gangrene after a lesion, caused by arsenic poisoning, became infected. He has since migrated over 500 kilometers away to Dodamargh, Savantwadi in Belgaum, where he earns 200 Rs (around 4 dollars) per week breaking stones. Despite his handicap, he has no choice but to work in hard labor to support his wife and two young daughters.
Dozens of such cases continue to emerge from Kiradali Tanda, where an independent study has shown has shown that water from village wells contains around 303 micrograms of arsenic per liter. The World Health Organization currently cites 10 micrograms per liter as the maximum acceptable level for human exposure.
India’s Mangalur mine, just four kilometers from the arsenic-ridden village of Kiradalli Tandi, originally began as a colonial project of Britain’s empire in the late 19th century. Karnataka’s government briefly reopened the mine nearly 70 years later, until flooding again forced it to close in 1994.
The sealed-off entrance to the abandoned mine, whose toxic tailings continue to endanger inhabitants of surrounding villages.
The camps often flood due to poor drainage and the winter snowfall.
Ground water often floods the camps due to poor drainage and the winter snowfall.
A young Refugee child looks out from the doorway of his makeshift home across flooded land in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, along the border with Syria.
The hardest hit residential area of New York City was that of Breezy Point, Queens on the Rockaway Peninsula. Over 110 homes were burned when the storm surge caused a 6 alarm fire in this densely developed working class Irish-American seaside enclave. Here, firefighters reconvene at their vehicle.
The hardest hit residential area of New York City was that of Breezy Point, Queens on the Rockaway Peninsula. Over 110 homes were burned when the storm surge caused a 6 alarm fire in this densely developed working class Irish-American seaside enclave. Here, firefighters continue to battle smoldering debris.